James's Light Meter Collection: Norwood Director (Model B)
Norwood Director (Model B) USAclick for user manual
Maker: American Bolex
Model: B
Visual Designer: Alpheus Maple
US Design Patent #: D154558
Circa: 1948
Price (new): $20
Cell type: Selenium
Measure type: 3D incident (2D incident and Reflecting/Averaging available with accessories)

click for larger imageFor more background on this gem, please see The Many Faces of the Norwood Director, or check out some other sites on my Resources page.

The short of it: this is the Model B, the first of the American Bolex units, the first of this design (which they would subsequently keep throughout its iterations), and the first to be widely available and mass-marketed. Prior to this, the Model A was briefly sold and aimed at studio professionals and cinematographers.

This is how to tell the "serious" meters from the ones sold for the mass market: there are a lot of niceties to this meter that simply aren't in others. Not just the rotating sensor head (so you can aim the dome at the camera and still comfortably read the dial), but the shape of the unit and how nicely it fits the hand; the corduroy edges to give it a pleasant grip. The whole fit and finish of it is nice.

The American Bolex models also came in a nice clamshell case with satin-interior lining, like a fine watch.

Like most of my old selenium meters, this one doesn't work. My father and I took it apart and brought it back to life, and then I accidentally tapped the hair spring with my fingernail and bent it to hell, so now it's a permanent paperweight.

I should also note that this one doesn't really have a blue face. That's the sky being reflected on the clear plastic case. When I took the photo I did not have adequate artificial lights so I shot this outside in bright sunlight and used Photoshop to tame the contrast and make it presentable. For a long time I thought the face was dark blue and the sunlight brought it out--but I recently looked again and no-such-look: it's black. All of my Norwoods have black faces; the exception is the Brockway S, which has a bare-metal background and black letting (similar to a Weston Master V).

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